'Zero tolerance' policies spark Student Self-Defense bill
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -
Schools systems in Tennessee have begun implanting a "zero tolerance" policy in regards to fighting.
The policies vary between each school system, but generally involve severe punishment for any students caught in a fight.
As a result of the zero tolerance stance, students who defend themselves or stand up for others against bullies face the same punishment as the aggressor.
The Student Self-Defense Bill (Senate Bill 113/House Bill 860) would allow principals and administrators to exempt a student from punishment if the student is determined to be acting in self-defense or in defense of another student.
Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Franklin, supports the bill.
"The bill will highlight the fact that it is up to the discretion of the principal to look at a case by case basis and determine if a child was truly defending themselves or someone else," said Tim Brinegar, Director of Government Relations for Professional Educators of Tennessee.
It "is not just for self defense; it is for defense of another. The principal does not have to follow the zero tolerance guidelines. They can expel the one student that started it," Brinegar added.
The Student Self-Defense Bill is on the Senate Education Committee Calendar for discussion on February 20.